Stephen Garrett says now is the time to change how people view death.

Shining a light on the dark topic of death

Two speakers at the Closing the Circle Conference on Oct. 25 want to shed some light on one of life’s certainties: Death.

The loss of a friend or loved one is never easy, but two speakers at the Closing the Circle Conference on Oct. 25 want to shed some light on one of life’s certainties: Death.

It is a subject that one keynote speaker, Mary Gavan, is no stranger to. Through her presentation, entitled Dying to Tell, Gavan provides insight into the process through her time as a hospice volunteer with her grandmother and, later, as a palliative care nurse in Scotland.

“In my town, some 20 miles outside of Edinburgh, sitting with the sick was a common undertaking. Something about the stillness and serenity of sitting with the sick appealed to my soul and I went willingly with my granny to be with the other men and women. I enjoyed their camaraderie and matter of fact approach to life as well as their understanding of care,” she said.

“Such is the bliss of palliative care that I remain besotted with it, a lifetime later. What I learnt was the only thing that matters is your own sincerity as a human being to another … our humanity is what we have in common and what is needed most.”

For Stephen Garrett, another keynote speaker at the conference, the key to dealing with death is simply to change how society, and human-kind, perceive it.

“This Grim Reaper notion, which is fictitious and mythical, isn’t working for anyone. My goal is to help people disrobe the Grim Reaper and maybe approach death from a different perspective … perhaps our image of death could be something a little less ominous and something a little more graceful,” said the former teacher and a personal growth speaker with more than 15 years of experience.

“If we changed our view of death and could sit down and have open, compassionate talks about death it may not be that way … they would have a different relationship with death and they would be inspired to sit down with their family members and do their own end-of-life planning. Even though you may be 40 or 50 or 60, let’s get it done, let’s get it put in a binder and have it ready to go so the doctors and the family can work together on a graceful path.”

The conference is being hosted by the Prince Rupert and District Hospice Society, who give of their time to be with the sick and dying through their ordeal. It’s a position that may not appeal to many, but one that both Gavan and Garrett say is critical to the patient.

“My presentation pays tribute to hospice volunteers who are sharing their humanity. All praise to them and their generous spirits. My stories show why I regard their contribution as unique and as essential,” said Gavan.

“Those people are angels. They are the ones that sit with the families that are grieving and struggling, the ones who sit with the ones who are dying and they keep them company in the hospitals and the seniors homes or their own homes. They do a Herculean job just being with people and giving them company and a hand to hold and an ear to listen at times when a lot of people may be running for cover … most people don’t want to sit with the dying, but hospice volunteers do and they are a blessing for someone who is all alone in a hospital,” Garrett said.

The Closing the Circle Conference will take place at Northwest Community College on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. To 3:30 p.m. For more information or to register, call 250-622-6204 or email princeruperthospice@gmail.com.

Just Posted

Raiders claim the crown in Terrace

The Prince Rupert Adventure Paving Raiders went 3-0 in the Terrace Classic

Overnight tsunami threat triggered alarm in Port Edward, while much of Prince Rupert slept

Emergency BC issued the warning after a 7.9 earthquake off Alaska early Tuesday morning

$5 bus hits the road between Rupert and Terrace starting Jan. 25

The Prince Rupert Friendship House put out its first schedule for twice-a-day bus to Terrace

VIDEO: Olympic running coach trains Rupert coaches

Rupert Runners’ Learn To Run program will have BC Athletics trained leaders for the first time

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Shop Prince Rupert winners

In the past years, more than $250,000 has been spent at Shop Prince Rupert merchants

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Vancouver Islanders ponder need for tsunami siren song

Alarm sounds in Port Alberni but not at the DND base in Esquimalt

Babcock, Goyette and Smyth honoured at Order of Hockey in Canada

Mike Babcock, from Saskatoon, guided the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008

Bell Canada alert prompts RCMP, privacy watchdog to probe data breach

Company spokesman: ‘Fewer than 100,000 customers were affected’

Snowboarder dies at Vancouver Island ski resort

Death at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

Most Read